It was founded in 1897 by Ernest L. Finley who merged his Evening Press and Thomas Thompson's Sonoma Democrat (originally created as a voice for the Democratic Party).
Finley also bought the Santa Rosa Republican in 1927 and merged it with the Press Democrat in 1948.
Ernest L. Finley, his wife Ruth, daughter Ruth, and son-in-law Evert Person owned and published the "PD" between 1897 and 1985. Evert and Ruth Finley Person sold the paper to The New York Times Company in 1985.
It is currently owned by Sonoma Media Investments, LLC after being purchased from Halifax Media Group. The New York Times Company bought the paper from the Finley family in 1985, as well as the North Bay Business Journal, and the Petaluma Argus-Courier which were also purchased by the Halifax Media Holdings LLC. Halifax resold its California papers at the end of 2012 to a local ownership group that includes Douglas H. Bosco.